Tar Stains on Carpet
By Steve Gillman
Whether from roofing tar, asphalt sealer, or patch tar in
a tube, tar stains in carpet are one of the toughest to remove.
In the end you might need a professional carpet cleaner to get
these stains out - or they might be permanent. But to the extent
that you can remove them or lighten them, here are the steps
First, if it is wet tar and there are sizable globs of it,
carefully lift them off the carpet from both sides using two
pieces of cardboard. If you rub them they will spread. If there
are dried chunks you might scrape some of them loose using the
edge of a spoon (but the spoon will then need cleaning.
To get the rest of the tar stains out of the carpet you can
try rubbing alcohol. Buy the 90% kind if possible, although the
70% brands will work too. Avoid any that have color added to
them. Don't pour the alcohol directly on the carpet or it might
soak down to the backing and cause delamination. Put it on a
clean white cotton rag and use that to apply it carefully to
just the stained fibers.
Soak up any excess after a minute, and apply again. use a
clean pat of the rag each time so you can watch for stain transfer.
Once there is no more transfer of the tar, you have gone about
as far as you can go. If there is any stain remaining you might
call a professional to see if there is something he or she can
Remove the alcohol using a solution of warm water and dish
detergent - about four drops of Dawn or Joy in a cup of water.
Apply and extract by blotting with a clean cloth or white paper
towels. Repeat until the alcohol is out. Then use water in the
same way to remove all the detergent residue.
Dry the carpet quickly to prevent any stain from deeper down
in the fibers from wicking up to the surface.
If there is still much of a stain and it seems to be permanent
(which is likely), see the following page for ideas on what to
Permanent Stains in Carpet
Remove Carpet Stains Homepage
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